Semantic Translation and Communicative Translation
The concepts of communicative and semantic translation represent Peter Newmark's main contribution to general translation theory. In his book Approaches to Translation, two chapters contribute to the elaboration on these two methods. In this book report, I will illustrate these two methods with examples, compare them to other translation methods, make some comment on the similarities and differences between them. Newmark contends that there are three basic translation processes: a. ... the translation procedure (choosing equivalents for words and sentences in the TL), and c. ... Newmark¡¯s translation methods are proposed on his thoughtful analysis of the purpose of the translation, the nature of the readership, and the type of text, whereas in the previous argument, writer, translator and reader were implicitly identified with each other. ... By definition, communicative translation attempts to produce on its readers an effect as close as possible to that obtained on the readers of the source language. Semantic translation, on the other hand, attempts to render, as closely as the semantic and syntactic structures of the TL allow, the exact contextual meaning of the original. Semantic translation is accurate, but may not communicate well; whereas communicative translation communicates well, but may not be very precise. In order to distinguish his translation methods from other methods, he lists (p 45) four kinds of translations with emphasis on the source language: (1)Word-for-word-translation, (2) Literal translation, (2) Faithful translation and (4) Semantic translation. He also lists four kinds of translations with emphasis on the target language: (1) Adaptation, (2) Free translation, (3) Idiomatic translation and (4) Communicative translation. His flattened V diagram reveals translation approach as a continuum. SOURCE LANGUAGE BIAS TARGET LANGUAGE BIAS LITERAL FREE FAITHFUL IDIOMATIC SEMANTIC/COMMNUNICATIVE From this continuum, we can easily find that the gap between semantic and communicative translation is much narrower than other translation methods. Newmark describes broader categories than does Nida (1964), referring to semantic and communicative translation. A translation must find a balance between representing the SL accurately and maintaining good style in the TL. ... I think the first thing to acknowledge is that any translation is inevitably a linguistic compromise.